hair loss, Menopause and Beyond, PCOS, Prism Blog, Transgender Wellness

Stop Hair Loss in Its Tracks

I recently taught a workshop on healthy hair care and preventing hair loss and I just want to share a few tips from the class with you!

Hair loss can have several causes, from stress to genetics to autoimmune disorders. Some of these are easier to solve than others, but treating our hair (and bodies) well can help slow -and in some cases reverse- hair loss no matter what the cause.

Some amount of hair loss is a natural part of the hair cycle. It’s normal to lose between 50-100 hairs on days you don’t shower, and up to 200 hairs on days you do. Which should tell you right away that if you’re concerned about hair loss you should be showering less often!

At any given point, about 90% of your hair follicles should be in the active growing phase and 10% should be in the dormant or falling out stage. Hair loss can involve either an imbalance in the number of active vs inactive follicles, or a change in the growth of active follicles so that they no longer produce hair of the original color, length, or texture. If you’re concerned that you’re losing too much hair, take about 60 hairs between two fingers and gently pull. If you get more than 5-8 hairs you likely have an imbalance in the number of active vs inactive follicles.

The most common form of hair loss is also the most well-known. Commonly called ‘male-pattern baldness’ or androgenic alopecia, it actually occurs in all genders. While there is certainly a genetic component to this type of hair loss, it can also be mediated with herbs and hair care -if you catch it in time. Hair loss that has been present for 3-5 years or more becomes very difficult and sometimes impossible to resolve. This type of hair loss typically presents as a receding hair line or thinning of hair along the part or crown of the head. It is generally caused by DHT, a form of testosterone that is also responsible for many prostate issues, which essentially ‘attacks’ hair follicles. Luckily, DHT can only function in low-oxygen environments, so by increasing circulation to the scalp we can prevent this type of hair loss.

Androgenic Alopecia: Saw Palmetto as an herbal supplement blocks DHT, and topical rosemary oil (like Prism’s Hair Growth Serum) blocks DHT directly in the scalp. 7 Star Treatments, like Prism’s Hair Restoration Treatment, also increase circulation to the scalp, blocking DHT.

The second most common form of hair loss is called ‘telogenic effluvium’, which literally means your hair is falling out. There’s no change in your hair follicles, simply too many of them are in the dormant vs growth stage. This is usually caused by hormonal stress like starting or stopping birth control, HRT, or hormone blockers, after birth, menopause, or even just a stressful time in your life. Yes, you can actually stress yourself out so much that your hair falls out! Besides tackling whatever caused this problem in the first place (getting acupuncture and a custom herbal formula to balance hormones and reduce stress, practicing mindfulness meditation or other stress-reduction techniques), the best thing you can do is to be gentle with your scalp to prevent as much hair loss as possible.

This also applies to hair loss caused by chemicals, heat, or other types of physical damage to the hair and hair follicles. This is most likely the case if you suddenly notice your hair refusing to grow more than a few inches long and then breaking off.

Care for Your Hair Follicles:

Beauty Routines:

  • Prevent sun damage: wear a hat or scarf to cover hair and scalp
  • Switch plastic brushes for a pure boar bristle brush or a wide tooth comb, only use on dry hair
  • Air dry hair or use a hair wrap instead of blow drying. Heat protectant sprays do not help because wetting hair before drying actually increases damage!
  • Wash hair only 1-3 times per week

Avoid drying, damaging, and toxic product ingredients (organic products generally do not contain these ingredients and are a good choice):

  • Silicone
  • Ethanol, isopropane, propanol or isopropyl alcohols (fatty alcohols like lauryl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, myristyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol and behenyl alcohol are ok)
  • Aerosols (use pump sprays only)
  • Sulfates (organic coco-sulfates and sulfonates are gentler)
  • Parabens
  • Fragrances (essential oils are ok)
  • Zinc Pyrithione and Coal Tar (in dandruff shampoos, use an organic dandruff shampoo instead)
  • Sodium laurel/laureth sulfate (SLS), aka ammonium laurel sulfate, sodium dodecylsulfate, sulfuric acid, sodium salt sulfuric acid, A12-00356, Akyposal SDS, Aquarex ME, and Aquarex methyl
  • Proplyene glycol (PG), PEG, or Polyethylene
  • Salt Sprays (too drying)

Try these hair-safe products instead:

Avoid chemical and heat styling and harsh dyes. Check out salons that use organic products and ammonia and paraben-free dyes:

Hair breakage (and hair loss) can also be caused by malnutrition, either not getting enough nutrients your hair needs to grow, or something is preventing you from absorbing those nutrients. Most commonly this is due to anemia. Make sure to get checked out by a healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause!

Nutrition for Hair Health:

  • Hair and Skin from Nature’s Way
  • Hair, Skin, and Nail Support from Gaia Herbs
  • A prescription formula from Prism, tailored to your individual constitution
  • Omega Plus from Thorne, or:
    • Omega-3 from salmon, mackerel, tuna, white fish, sardines, walnuts, hemp seeds, flax seeds
  • Basic Nutrients (if you don’t need iron), Basic Nutrients IV (with iron), or Basic Prenatal from Thorne, or:
    • Vitamin C from oranges, kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, strawberries, grapefruit and kiwi.
    • vitamin D from halibut, mackerel, eel, salmon, whitefish, maitakes and portabellas.
    • Vitamin A from Sweet Potato, pumpkin, Carrots, Peaches, Kale
    • Vitamin E from Fish, Beans, Leafy Greens, Meat, Nuts and seeds, Whole grains
    • Biotin & B5 from chicken, avocado, legumes, nuts
    • Niacin from Fish, lean meats, Portabellas, Sunflower seeds, Avocado, Mushrooms, Tuna, Nuts
    • Iron from spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, navy beans, black beans.
    • Zinc (especially with autoimmune alopecia) from oysters and other seafood, Whole grains, Legumes, Sunflower seeds, Pumpkin
    • Selenium from brazil nuts and other nuts and seeds, oysters, tuna, mushrooms
  • Collagen from bone broth; or boost your own collagen production with dark leafy greens and red fruits and veggies like cherries and beets
  • Lycopene from guava, papaya, grapefruit, asparagus, purple cabbage
  • Avoid Inflammatory foods like dairy, red meat, trans-fats (like margarine), gluten, alcohol, coffee, eggs, bananas, mango, pineapple, watermelon, nightshades (eggplant, paprika, peppers, potatoes, tomatillos, tomatoes), and soy.

If you’re not sure what kind of hair loss you’re experiencing, a dermatologist can examine your hair under a microscope and determine this for you. Beware the Rogaine they may prescribe, however, as it can often cause hair growth in unwanted places! Rosemary oil on the scalp (like Prism’s Hair Growth Serum) has been shown to be as effective as Rogaine and does not have this side effect.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

Acupuncture, Endometriosis, Fertility and Pregnancy, For Providers, Menopause and Beyond, Prism Blog, Surgical Recovery, Transgender Wellness

Treating Post-Surgical Constipation

photo credit: Practical Cures on flickr CC

Constipation is extremely common post-surgery, especially in combination with constipating pain killers, less physical activity, and irregular fluid and food intake. Often a bowel movement is required before a hospital will let a patient go home, so encouraging this process is especially beneficial to get you home sooner.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is extremely useful for alleviating postoperative constipation. Studies have shown that patients receiving regular acupuncture post-surgery actually perform better (have more frequent, easier,  less painful, more complete bowel movements) than those taking laxatives or stool softeners.

Points on your arms, legs, and abdomen are most frequently chosen for this purpose, especially points on either side of your navel and points on the stomach and large intestine ‘meridians’ (lines along the body in Chinese Medicine, sort of like dermatomes).

Acupressure

Several of these points can also be used at home as acupressure points for constipation. Press each point lightly (no more than an inch deep for abdominal points, about the pressure of holding hands for arm and leg points) for about 30 seconds at a time:

Massage

Belly massage is also helpful. You can find a Chi-Nei-Tsang practitioner near you, or watch this video demo to perform a similar belly massage yourself. You can also refer to the illustrated steps available here. There are many methods of breathing exercises for constipation as well that massage your belly from the inside!

Herbs

Acupuncture can be complemented with some herbs that stimulate bowel motility like:

Nutrition

Hydration is key. Drink plenty of water and incorporate more warm foods and beverages to wake up your digestive system gently. Try ginger tea, hot water with lemon, and bone broth. If you urinate more frequently than every 2 hours you may be drinking too much or too fast. If you urinate less frequently than every 5 hours you are dehydrated!

Eat warm, easy-to-digest foods like rice porridge, oatmeal, and mashed sweet potato or yams. When you’re ready, try lamb or vegetable and mushroom soup. Give your family and friends recipes to make for you during your recovery, such as: Magical Mineral Broth, Congee, and Almond flour ginger cookies.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

For more herbal estrogens, ideas, and resources see my previous posts: Feminizing Herbs and “The Basics.”


Further study:

  Acupuncture at ST25 and BL25   Acupuncture at LI11 and ST37   Acupuncture at ST25, BL25, LI11 and ST37   Medicine:oral use of mosapride citrate: 4-week oral use, 5mg, three times daily 0.5 hour before meal   Total
SBMs [1]
[units: times per week]
Mean (Standard Deviation)
  2.7  (1.9)   2.5  (1.7)   2.9  (2.0)   2.9  (2.8)   2.8  (2.1)
Bristol scale [2]
[units: units on a scale]
Mean (Standard Deviation)
  2.8  (1.3)   2.9  (1.4)   3.0  (1.5)   2.7  (1.4)   2.9  (1.8)
Degree of straining during defecation [3]
[units: participants]
0   5   8   9   5   27
1   63   60   68   59   250
2   68   69   58   72   267
3   30   35   28   31   124
no defecation   2   0   2   3   7

 

Acupuncture, Endometriosis, Fertility and Pregnancy, For Providers, Menopause and Beyond, Neuropathy, Prism Blog, Scar Reduction, Surgical Recovery, Transgender Wellness

Acupuncture for Scar Treatment

Why Should We Treat Scars?
Scars may not only be cosmetically undesirable, but may also have an impact on the health of the individual. This is especially true for very large scars; scars with abnormal coloration, lumpiness, numbness, tingling, itchiness, heat or cold sensations, achiness or pain, tenderness to touch, and muscle restriction.
Such scars and associated adhesions can indicate or lead to nerve and blood vessel damage, decreased range of motion and muscle strength, increased likelihood of future injury, and chronic pain (especially pins and needles, tingling, and numbness). Scars are especially notable on the torso, where underlying adhesions can impair bowel function, chronic pelvic pain or infertility, depending on the site of the scar.
In Chinese medicine, significant scars are considered to block the flow of the meridians, (similar to the nerve and blood vessel damage pointed to by Western medicine) causing not only pain and decreased circulation, but also potentially impaired internal organ function depending on the meridian affected.

Scar Treatment with Acupuncture and Herbs
Scars that are at least two weeks old can be treated with acupuncture and herbal medicine.
A 2014 study used local acupuncture (“surrounding the dragon“: using needles directly around and through the scar) with distal points (4 gates and ST36). After eight treatments in 5 weeks the scar pain had reduced from a 7/10 to a 1-2/10. Such treatments can not only reduce scar pain, but also help to break up scar tissue and adhesions, increase local circulation, and aid healing. This leads to flatter, smaller, less noticeable scars and a reduction of keloiding.
Moxibustion (a gentle warming treatment achieved by burning dried mugwort), may also be used. Small amounts of moxa may be burned directly on the skin -with a sesame oil cream as a medium to prevent burns- around the scar, or a stick of rolled moxa may be burned above the site to warm the area. Both methods are pleasant and effective.
Topical herbs can also be very beneficial for scar healing. It is generally best to apply your liniment of choice over the affected area before bed and cover with a tshirt (or other clean soft article of clothing depending on the site of the scar), so that it has plenty of time to soak in without washing or sweating which would interfere with product absorption during the day.

Which Topical Should You Choose?
  • Prism’s Scar Oil has frankincense and other essential oils that break up scar tissue in a tamanu oil base, a great oil for reducing the appearance of scars, including keloids.
  • Zheng Gu Shui is beneficial for deep scars that may have adhesions to underlying tissues (for example surgical scars). They can improve local circulation, healing of the scar and the area that was injured, and reduce associated pain. It is better for healing and restoring health to the area than for cosmetic scar reduction.
  • Wan Hua Oil prevents scarring, increases blood circulation, reduces swelling, and helps regenerate damaged tissues. Once the wound closes, massage the oil directly over the scar daily to prevent scarring and promote healing. This option is best to prevent cosmetic scars from surgery. It is also effective for scars from burns.
  • Aloe aids scar healing and reduces infection and swelling. If used during the healing process it can reduce the formation of scars. Be sure to use 100% aloe (fresh is best), not aloe with alcohol or other additives that can dry and irritate the area.
  • Ching Wan Hung oil promotes healing and new tissue growth, reduces scarring, and prevents infection. It is especially effective for scars from burns.
  • You can also use castor oil compresses, to break up deeper scar tissue and adhesions, but I don’t recommend this for new scars that are still healing (or any open wounds).

Note: Many people recommend the usage of Vitamin E on scars, but newer research shows that Vitamin E does not help reduce the appearance of scars, and in the case of surgical scars can actually make scars more visible due to the development of irritation or contact dermatitis.


Providers: read more about acupuncture scar treatments from Skya Abbate, DOM.

Additionally, my colleague, Dena Gold LAc, suggests a Japanese style version of surrounding the dragon that involved needling slightly outside the scar, towards and under under the scar superficially enough that the needle falls rather than roots. Dena also suggests checking the fire points of the channel the scar intersects and if they are tender, needle the metal and water points of that channel before treating the scar directly.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

For more herbal estrogens, ideas, and resources see my previous posts: Feminizing Herbs and “The Basics.”

 

Prism Blog, Transgender Wellness

Herbal Trio for Breast Development

Trans women can use herbal estrogens and progesterones with a medical provider to:

  • if you don’t want to use hormones or undergo surgery, but still want to create physical changes in your body.
  • after being on synthetic hormones for many years to maintain the changes that you have made without the side effects of continued synthetic hormone use.
  • to compliment your synthetic hormone regimen.

These are my top three favorite herbs focusing on breast tissue development. They can be taken all together or individually, following the instructions of your healthcare provider and directions for dosage on the bottle.

You can expect it to take at least a month to notice any changes, which will likely start with breast tenderness, swelling under the nipple, or slight areola growth. Understand that changes will not increase as fast or dramatically as with synthetic hormones, but nonetheless herbal estrogens and progesterones are a desirable alternative for many people.

If you are taking synthetic estrogens, eliminate the hops from this regimen as it can increase systemic estrogen levels.This trio of herbs may also be used to maintain breast growth created by synthetic hormones if you want to stop taking hormones, though you should always get your hormone levels checked regularly by your healthcare provider to make sure you are maintaining your desired levels.

Herbal Trio for Breast Development:

  • Hops
    • Hops have 0.2-20% the potency of estradiol and can increase estrogen levels in the body.
    • It is commonly used to increase lactation as it acts on the milk ducts of the breast. It may have a side effect of lactation in some people.
  • Maca
    • Maca is known for its effects of creating curves, and is fairly inexpensive.
    • It is known for its aphrodisiac effects, and can increase erectile capacity, stamina, and sperm counts -which may either be viewed as extra benefits or side effects depending on your goals.
    • It also boosts the immune system and helps combat osteoporosis.
  • Fenugreek
    • Fenugreek/Hu Lu Ba (Trigonella foenum-graecum) seeds contain a compound (diosgenin) that’s estrogenic and promotes breast tissue growth.
    • Sprouted seeds contain much more diosgenin than the unsprouted seeds, so breast enlargement is more noticeable if you sprout the seeds first.

Taking your herbs:

  • Be cautious of interactions with other herbs, supplements, and medications you’re taking! Herbs are safe when used correctly, but can have dangerous interactions if you use them carelessly.
  • You can take these herbs all at once if that is easier for you to remember.
    • However, because maca increases energy and hops have a mild sedative effect, you might try taking maca in the morning and hops before bed.
  • Where you get your herbs has a major influence on their effectiveness. Some herb companies have much higher quality standards and produce a stronger product with less additives. Any of these brands are good options to look into further:
    • Gaia and Herb Pharm both have great quality herbs in a variety of options: Hops, Maca, and Fenugreek.
    • My Evanesce has several herbal blends, most of which have many unnecessary added ingredients, but their Feminol product has a more useful blend of dong quai, black cohosh, chaste tree, white kwao krua, fennel, fenugreek, licorice, kudzu, sarsaparilla, boron, plus b6, d3, and b12. They recommend taking all of their formulations at once which is not only completely unnecessary as they mostly contain the same ingredients but also could lead to dangerous dosages of the herbs. Do not do this and do your own research!
    • If you take synthetic hormones (or other medications), you could take your fenugreek as part of their liver cleanse combo to support your liver.

All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

For more herbal estrogens, ideas, and resources see my previous posts: Feminizing Herbs and “The Basics.”

Endometriosis, Fertility and Pregnancy, Menopause and Beyond, PCOS, Prism Blog, Transgender Wellness

The Soy Controversy

“Women consuming the equivalent of two cups of soy milk per day provides the estrogenic equivalent of one birth control pill… men who consumed the equivalent of one cup of soy milk per day had a 50% lower sperm count than men who didn’t eat soy. –Chris Kresser’s Paleo Code

Soy is often touted as a natural source of estrogen, but is it safe to use either for this purpose or as a food?

“About two ounces of soy products per day may be sufficient to ward off hot flashes and other symptoms” of menopause (Wright & Morgenthaler, Natural Hormone Replacement for Women over 45). However, as an estrogen source, it may not be the safest food option.

Soy is present in nearly every packaged and processed food in the U.S, in fact, the average American gets up to 9% of our calories from soybean oil alone. Compare this to about 2 teaspoons per day in China and 9 teaspoons per day in Japan, most of which is fermented soy, which neutralizes the toxins (like trypsin inhibitors that inhibit protein digestion and affect pancreatic function, and phytic acid, which reduces absorption of minerals like calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc) that are present in most of the soy we consume in the U.S. (Chris Kresser’s Paleo Code)

Unfermented soy also increases our requirement for vitamin D and B12 (the opposite of fermented soy which provides these vitamins!), and disrupts endocrine function (potentially causing breast cancer and thyroid problems). Processed unfermented soy often actually contains carcinogens as well. (Chris Kresser’s Paleo Code)

It is not fully known how soy consumption may impact synthetic hormones, and it’s nearly impossible to avoid all soy since it’s in most of the food we consume, but it would be wise for most people to avoid eating the major processed soy foods like tofu, soy milk, and soy protein isolate. Fermented soy still contains estrogens, but is not as disruptive (or potentially carcinogenic) to our natural hormones, and is probably a safe food for most people.

I would generally recommend that people transitioning towards the masculine side of the spectrum avoid soy foods, and for those looking for natural sources of estrogen, there are many safer feminizing herbs and foods out there. For example, “flax contains substances called lignans, which have been shown to have estrogen-like qualities” (Wright & Morgenthaler). A few foods have small amounts of identical-to-human hormones [about 1-2% potency of human hormones] (Wright & Morgenthaler), including:
Rice, apples, date palm, pomegranate (estrone)
French bean seedlings (estradiol)
rice, licorice (estriol)


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

Prism Blog, Transgender Wellness

Herbs for Transitioning: Masculinizing Herbs

This is a follow-up post to “The Basics.” Also see the feminizing herbs post here.

Hormones and surgery can be expensive or not accessible. Herbs can also be used if you don’t want to use hormones or undergo surgery, but still want to create physical changes in your body, or after being on synthetic hormones for many years to maintain the changes that you have made without the side effects of continued synthetic hormone use. Note: Most are unlikely to have a significant effect without any other transition methods.

Vitex: The Regulating Herb

Vitex is a hormone normalizer that works with the pituitary gland to keep progesterone stable and prevent  it from converting to estrogen or testosterone. This helps to hold secondary sex characteristics that have developed with synthetic hormones. Technically, it increases LH and reduces FSH, which increases progesterone and reduces estrogen and testosterone. This helps it regulate emotions, prevent acne, hormonal edema and bloating, and it can help you transition onto and off of synthetic hormones, as well as stabilize fluctuations in hormones while taking hormones.

These herbs can be used instead of synthetic hormones:

(Ex. to create small changes if hormones are not desired, or after years of taking hormones to maintain changes.)

  • Example combination: pine pollen, ashwaganda, Lu Rong
  • ashwaganda- steroidal precursor to T… and an adaptogen that helps build your immune system!
  • Yohimbe– promotes and supports testosterone levels
  • ginseng/Ren Shen- “yang tonic” in TCM, yang is both the masculine energy in TCM (ex. Ren Shen is sometimes used for impotence), and the energy needed to create change (ex. transition). DO NOT take while on testosterone.
  • sassafrass
  • pine nuts & pine pollen- closest approximation to human androgens
  • wild oats
  • Lu Rong/young deer antler- contains deer testosterone
  • blue cohosh- to stop periods, often taken with black cohosh. ONLY take this herb under supervision of a professional herbalist, it can be dangerous or cause opposite of desired effects if used incorrectly.
  • Blends:
  • Foods:

These herbs can help support synthetic hormones:

(DO NOT combine these with your medications without discussing with a healthcare provider.)

  • buplerum/Chai Hu- for emotional stability
  • stinging nettle– decreases “bound” testosterone and increases “free” or usable testosterone. also provides lymphatic and immune support.
  • white button mushroom- prevents testosterone conversion to estrogen
  • prickly ash- smoothes and eases voice transformation

For side effects of synthetic herbs:

(DO NOT combine these with your medications without discussing with a healthcare provider.)

  • He Shou Wu- for hair growth, prevents male-pattern baldness
  • saw palmetto- prevents male-pattern baldness, especially when combined with 10-30mg zinc daily
  • B5- to prevent acne
  • marshmallow- for constipation
  • motherwort/Yi Mu Cao
  • kavakava, california poppy, skullcap/Huang Qin, lemon balm, aralia or damiana- for emotional imbalances
  • bitters- for digestive symptoms
  • echinacea
  • yarrow
  • turmeric/Jiang Huang
  • nettle
  • dandelion/Pu Gong Ying, milk thistle/Shui Fei Ji-for liver damage
  • garlic/Da Suan- for high cholesterol & blood pressure
  • red root, cleavers, and ocotillo- for lymphatic drainage – to prevent reproductive cancers
  • hawthorne berry/Shan Zha can help prevent cardiovascular problems (which can occur with long-term T use), but can react with pharmaceutical heart medicines and shouldn’t be combined with them.

DON’T combine synthetic hormones with St. John’s wort/Guan Ye Lian Qiao, it stresses the liver. It also encourages bleeding, so avoid before SURGERY too!

References include:
http://www.sfherbalist.com/holistic-health-for-transgender-gender-variant-folks/
http://midnightapothecary.blogspot.com/


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

Prism Blog, Transgender Wellness

Herbs for Transitioning: Feminizing Herbs

This is a follow-up post to “The Basics.” Also see the transmasculine post here.

Hormones and surgery can be expensive or not accessible. Herbs can also be used if you don’t want to use hormones or undergo surgery, but still want to create changes in your body, or after being on synthetic hormones for many years to maintain the changes that you have made without the side effects of continued synthetic hormone use. Note: Most herbs are unlikely to have a significant effect without any other transition methods.

DO NOT combine these with your medications without discussing with a healthcare provider.

Vitex: The Regulating Herb:

Vitex (Vitex agnus) is a hormone normalizer that works with the pituitary gland to keep progesterone stable and prevent  it from converting to estrogen or testosterone. This helps to hold secondary sex characteristics that have developed with synthetic hormones. Vitex increases LH and reduces FSH secretion, which increases progesterone relative to estrogen and testosterone (Wright & Morgenthaler, Natural Hormone Replacement). This helps it regulate emotions, prevent acne, hormonal edema and bloating, and it can help you transition onto and off of synthetic hormones, as well as stabilize fluctuations in hormones while taking hormones.

Estrogenic, Progesterogenic, and Anti-Androgenic Herbs:

  • Example combination: Vitex, Hops, Maca, and sprouted Fenugreek
  • Rhodeola Rosea is a controversial herb, however, the most informative sources I’ve found say that it increases estrogen levels unless they are already unnaturally high (such as when taking estradiol), in which case it decreases them. Overall this is a strong herb that should be used with caution and medical supervision.
    • If you have had estrogen sensitive breast cancer, bleeding disorders, diabetes, or take acetazolamide, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, anti-anxiety agents, antibiotics, anticancer agents, antidepressants, anti-inflammatories, antivirals, COMT inhibitors, drugs that affect the cardiovascular system or the immune system, P-glycoprotein-regulated agents, sedatives, theophylline, or stimulants, you should use caution or avoid this herb.
  • Maca is known for its effects of creating curves, has estrogenic effects, and is fairly inexpensive. It is also known for its aphrodisiac effects, and can increase erectile capacity and sperm counts, which may be a positive or negative thing for you depending on your goals. It also boosts the immune system and helps combat osteoporosis (which can be a side effect of taking spironolactone). Also available in a women’s libido blend.
  • Chaste tree berry/Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus) mimics progesterone, is also considered to be mildly estrogenic, and increases breast size by stimulating the development of milk ducts. It can therefore have a side effect of causing lactation.
  • Black cohosh/Sheng Ma (Cimicifuga racemosa) contains several compounds in its root (aceteine, formononetin, and triterpenes) that, though not estrogenic themselves, create similar effects to estrogen and can increase breast size. It decreases LH and increases estrogen in relation to progesterone [opposite of Vitex] (Wright & Morgenthaler). Only use this herb under supervision of an herbalist.
  • Fenugreek/Hu Lu Ba (Trigonella foenum-graecum) seeds contain a compound (diosgenin) that’s estrogenic and promotes breast tissue growth. Sprouted seeds contain much more diosgenin than the unsprouted seeds, so breast enlargement is more noticeable if you sprout the seeds first. Fennel works in much the same way.
  • Hops have 0.2-20% the potency of estradiol
  • Dong Quai/Dang Gui (stimulates estrogen receptors, providing some estrogen stimulus to receptor sites (Wright & Morgenthaler), however, it is not actually estrogenic itself.
  • False Unicorn (used during menopause for estrogen replacement)
  • Licorice (somewhat anti-androgenic and mimicks estrogen). Licorice also notably counteracts side effects of spironolactone (the most common anti-androgen used in the U.S.) like low blood pressure, gastic upsets, fatigue, dehydration, and frequent urination.
  • Other options from other pracititioners, I can’t vouch for any of these myself:
    • Pennyroyal (never take the oil internally!)
    • Goats Rue (promotes lactation)
    • Southernwood
    • Red Clover/Hsun Tsao
    • Caraway
    • Partridge Berry
    •  Anise
    • Raspberry Leaf
    • Mugwort/Ai Ye
    • Yarrow (encourages progesterone)
    • Cramp bark (mildly estrogenic)
    • Turmeric (mildly estrogenic)
    • Alfalfa
    • Burdock
    • Evening Primrose
    • Pau D’Arco
  • Blends:
    • Phytoestrogen Herbal from Vitanica
    • My Evanesce has several herbal blends, most of which have many unnecessary added ingredients, but their Feminol product has a more useful blend of dong quai, black cohosh, chaste tree, white kwao krua, fennel, fenugreek, licorice, kudzu, sarsaparilla, boron, plus b6, d3, and b12. They recommend taking all of their formulations at once which is not only completely unnecessary as they mostly contain the same ingredients but also could lead to dangerous dosages of the herbs. Do not do this and do your own research!
    • “HRT Companion” formula (formulated for side effects of synthetic hormones)
  • Foods:

Note: DON’T combine synthetic hormones with St. John’s wort/Guan Ye Lian Qiao, it changes the way that medications are metabolized. It also encourages bleeding, so avoid before surgery too!


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.


References include:
http://www.sfherbalist.com/holistic-health-for-transgender-gender-variant-folks/
http://midnightapothecary.blogspot.com/

hair loss, Menopause and Beyond, PCOS, Prism Blog, Transgender Wellness

How Does Saw Palmetto Decrease Baldness?

Normally, hair follicles remain active for up to a decade, producing a long strand of 10 year old hair. In alopecia, however, follicles stop producing hair before the hair is long enough to even emerge from the skin. Male pattern baldness, or Androgenic Alopecia, is both genetically determined and influenced by hormones.

Genetics cause some people’s hair follicles to be more susceptible to DHT (dihidrotestosterone), which changes the growth phase of hair follicles. This gene can be present in any sex, but is only expressed when DHT, a form of testosterone, is present. Hence the name “male-pattern” baldness. This is the reason why many trans men develop this pattern of baldness while on T, and why this process of balding stops in most trans women once they start taking anti-androgens (like spironolactone).

Though we cannot change the gene, we can prevent testosterone from converting to DHT to stop this balding process. Testosterone converts to DHT via the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase. Research has shown that saw palmetto inhibits 5-alpha-reductase, preventing this pattern of baldness.


Saw palmetto is very effective for hair growthSaw palmetto together with the supplement beta-sitosterol has been shown to have a 60% effectiveness rate for hair loss reversal. In my experience this does not increase facial hair growth, however studies have shown inconclusive results about its effect on overall testosterone levels. It likely blocks aromatase, an enzyme which converts testosterone to estradiol, a major hormone involved in breast development. If you’re concerned about saw palmetto supplements increasing your testosterone levels, a good alternative is to use it topically. It has been used topically with similar effectiveness.

Saw palmetto also prevents the accumulation of DHT in the prostate, lowering the risk of prostate cancer. It acts on estrogen and progesterone receptors to lower the risk of breast cancer. It’s helpful for colds and coughs, sore throats, asthma, chronic bronchitis, chronic pelvic pain syndrome, and migraine headaches. It is also a diuretic (makes you pee more), a sedative, and an aphrodisiac, so be cautious if those are effect you do not want.

DO NOT take saw palmetto with spironolactone because they are both diuretics and could significantly lower your blood pressure or cause dehydration. People with bleeding disorders or who are taking anticoagulant or antiplatelet medications (“blood-thinners”) such as warfarin (Coumadin), aspirin, or clopidogrel (Plavix) should avoid taking saw palmetto unless under medical supervision. It should also be avoided at least two weeks before or after surgery. Saw palmetto may interact with other medicines, including anti-inflammatory drugs, blood pressure medications, birth control pills and antibiotics.


Another great herb for hair loss is Shou Wu. Shou Wu Pian (aka Fu Ti) is an ancient Chinese herb that increases hair growth. It is generally used for scalp hair growth, but in my experience it increases mustache growth as well. If increased facial hair would be a problem for you, you may not want to take this formula. It’s also important not to take this formula if you are already taking synthetic hormones or other medications as it can increase the strain on your liver.


More hair loss prevention
Massage daily with Rosemary hair oil
Topical borage seed oil works like Propecia to block androgen receptors in hair follicles
Teas of silica rich herbs like horsetail, oats, or nettles
Nourish your kidneys with asparagus, artichoke, celery, aduki beans, parsley
Using a plum blossom needle to stimulate hair growth.

Finally, to support your overall constitution and get treatments tailored specficially to your goals, come in for a treatment!


Where to find:

Shou Wu Pian (aka Fu Ti)

Saw Palmetto with Beta-Sitosterol

Topical Saw Palmetto

Read more


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

 

Prism Blog, Sex & Relationships

14 Foods to Soothe Herpes Outbreaks

Two amino acids have a significant impact on both herpes simplex (mouth or genital herpes) and herpes zoster (shingles).

Lysine reduces the strength of a herpes outbreak, while Arginine can actually increase the intensity and duration of the outbreak. You can take lysine as a supplement to prevent outbreak, or eat foods containing lysine and avoid foods containing arginine, before and during the outbreak to shorten the duration.

You can also take the formula Long Dan Xie Gan Tang for herpes outbreaks either externally or internally. It usually takes 2-3 days for the formula to work (edited based on Liana’s comment).

Foods with Lysine: add before/during outbreak (in order from most lysine to least)

  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Goat milk
  • Cow milk
  • Lamb
  • Pork
  • Cheese
  • Beans (especially mung beans, lima beans, and soy beans)
  • Cottage cheese
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Sprouts
  • Crustaceans
  • Eggs

Foods with Arginine: avoid! (in order from most arginine to least)

  • Hazel nuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Peanuts & peanut butter
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Cocoa powder
  • Sesame
  • Cashews
  • Carob powder
  • Coconut
  • Pistachios
  • Buckwheat flour
  • Garbanzo beans or chickpeas
  • Brown rice
  • Pecans
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Oatmeal
  • Raisins
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Corn

All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

Prism Blog, Sex & Relationships

How Can Acupuncture Help With Hep C?

There are many acupuncture and herbal medicine treatments for Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) and its complications, whether or not you are undergoing western treatment.

Often western medical practitioners will advise patients with early stage HCV to wait to seek treatment until there are drugs available with less serious side effects, but you may already be experiencing symptoms at this point. Chinese medicine can be invaluable in alleviating the symptoms and slowing the progression of the virus until you are able to seek further treatment to clear the virus.

Current standard western anti-viral treatment involves interferon and ribarin, which together are able to clear HCV infection from about half of people affected. By combining these drugs with protease inhibitors, many more people can be cleared of the virus, but this combination produces serious side-effects. Many patients stop taking these drugs because of the side effects they produce, sometimes creating medication resistant HCV strains in their bodies. These side effects can be even worse if the patient is already in poor health when they begin taking these medications. Chinese medicine can be used to lessen the side effects of those western treatments and work on any concurrent health problems that may interfere with treatment.

Guan Ye Lian Qiao (St. John’s Wort), Chai Hu (Bupleurum), and Shui Fei Ji (Milk Thistle) don’t mix with western HCV treatment. Two weeks prior to starting western treatment, and during the course of treatment, the following herbs and supplements should be avoided: silymarin/milk thistle (though this herb can reduce liver inflammation for folks with HCV who are not taking anti-virals), St. John’s Wort, Chai Hu/Bupleurum. The following herbs and supplements can help soothe symptoms of HCV and side effects of treatment: lactobacillus acidophilis/probiotics, b-compex (especially B-12 and folic acid), omega 3 fatty acids & essential fatty acids, selenium, chromium, carotenoids, lycopenes, vitamin E, alpha lipoic acid.

It is recommended to get an acupuncture treatment within 24 hours or receiving an interferon injection, to help relieve side effects of the injection. Furthermore, HCV infection is the leading cause of liver transplants in the U.S., and chinese medicine can be helpful in supporting patients through this surgery and support their transplant as well.


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.

Prism Blog, Transgender Wellness

Herbs for Transitioning: The Basics

Herbs can be used for many aspects of transitioning: transitioning with herbs alone, switching from synthetic hormones to herbs to maintain secondary sex characteristics, and supporting the body with herbs and nutrition to counteract side effects of synthetic hormones.

The Basics:

It’s first important to take care of your body with proper nutrition so that you can handle the changes  and stress that will accompany transitioning. All hormones are made of fat, so it’s important to eat good fats (raw oils & omega 3s especially) to help your body form and transform those hormones, and also to coat your nerve cells (their myelin sheaths are also made of fat) to help you cope with stress and stay emotionally healthy. Fats form the boundaries of our cells–they keep out and let in what we want to–we need good fats in our bodies to have good boundaries physically and emotionally!

We ALL have the same hormones, just in different amounts and we USE different amounts of them too. Furthermore, we can change how our bodies use the hormones we already have. Every body makes progesterone from cholesterol, and that progesterone can turn into estrogen OR testosterone. The estrogen and testosterone in our bodies can also convert back and forth (estrogen to testosterone and vice versa). This is the reason you want to get your hormone dosages right: if you take too much, your body is just going to convert it into another hormone to maintain balance in your system. This could actually counter the desired effects of the hormone you are taking: too much estrogen in your system and your body will start converting it to testosterone, counteracting the changes you want to make.

Coming up with a plan for your body:

There are many different options for transitioning, even when just using synthetic hormones. Progesterone itself helps to build tissue and can often be useful for developing breasts (taken externally) or muscle tissue (taken internally). Aromatase is what turns testosterone into estrogen, so you can take extra aromatase instead of (or in addition to) taking estrogen. Likewise, you can take aromatase inhibitor to prevent that testosterone from turning into estrogen, instead of taking testosterone. There are many options for prescription hormones; it’s important to talk to your doctor about what will work best for your body.
For most people, herbs aren’t going to change your hormones drastically alone, so you might choose to start out taking synthetic hormones and, once you’ve achieved the effect you want, use herbs to lower your dose of synthetic hormones or switch to herbs entirely. Herbs can maintain the hormone levels and characteristics you’ve built up with synthetic hormones. This is a good alternative to the sometimes health damaging side effects of long-term synthetic hormone use.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!


References include:
http://www.sfherbalist.com/holistic-health-for-transgender-gender-variant-folks/


All information in this blog is for educational uses only. Always consult your doctor before taking any herbs or supplements, or changing or discontinuing your medications.


Contact us to see if your insurance covers services at our office!

Join the Prism Family! Subscribe to our newsletter and get $30 off your first visit.